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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 14 Hansard (12 December) . . Page.. 4416 ..

Leave granted.

MR HUMPHRIES: Great sensitivity, Mr Speaker. My question is to the Attorney-General. On 30 June 1999 in this place you stated:

... section 6 of the Financial Management Act provides for an absolute liability. It does not require ... intent. It simply says, "No money shall be paid out without proper appropriation."The penalty for the breach is not a criminal penalty; it is not a criminal prosecution. It is a political penalty ...

Given the findings of the Auditor-General's Report No 7 of 2002, do you still believe that this formulation of the law is the case?

MR STANHOPE: Mr Speaker, I do not resile from anything that I said in relation to the incompetence and the fiasco involved in the redevelopment of Bruce Stadium. The role of Mr Humphries in that cabinet, as he stood side by side with Mrs Carnell as she attempted to reject all responsibility for what occurred in relation to that, and what is detailed in 14 separate reports of the Auditor-General are there for all to know.

The redevelopment of Bruce Stadium was an absolute disgrace; it was a scandal of the first order. I do not resile from anything that I said in relation to Bruce Stadium. I do not resile at all from the fact that Mr Humphries, as a dedicated member of the cabinet that was responsible for that outrageous affair, has never accepted any responsibility for his part in the Bruce Stadium fiasco.

MR HUMPHRIES: I have a supplementary question in relation to the role of the Attorney-General in the cabinet which made this decision. As the first law officer of the ACT, what steps will you take to determine the legality of the $10 million Treasurer's Advance paid to ACT Housing in June 2002?

MR STANHOPE: I think that we need to go back to the Auditor-General's report in relation to this matter. The Auditor-General's findings were:

Housing received $10 million from the Treasurer's Advance in June 2002. The Audit view is that this was a misuse of the Treasurer's Advance and its legality could also be questioned.

If the legality can be questioned, I don't accept the Auditor-General's opinion on this. The Auditor-General has a view. It is a view that, I have to say, is not all that apparent to me. I think Mr Quinlan, the Treasurer, has already indicated that. I think it is indicated, indeed, in Mr Tonkin's response that we take this matter extremely seriously. It is quite clear that there are some very real ambiguities in the way that section 18 of the Financial Management Act is expressed; there is no doubt about that. We all accept that.

It is interesting to go through section 18 of the Financial Management Act. Section 18 (1), which is relevant to this discussion, states:

Expenditure that is-

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